WORKSHOPS Parks for the people
Taking archaeology to communities
Facilitator: Norman Redhead, assistant county archaeologist, Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit, University of Manchester
This session looked at the definition of community archaeology and the many benefits it can bring, mainly using Dig Manchester as an example. This is a flagship cultural and social regeneration project, an exemplar for community involvement, widening participation and social inclusion.
Other, smaller-scale community projects were also discussed, showing the range of activities and methodologies used in such schemes. The session covered the way in which projects are initiated, funded and managed, and the potential outcomes and legacies necessary to make the projects a success.
Finally, a methodology was produced for undertaking larger-scale community archaeology projects, based on the recent experiences of a number of successful and varied projects in Greater Manchester.
Buildings at risk strategies
Facilitators: Kate Borland and Chris Griffiths The purpose of the workshop was to give delegates the opportunity to understand the issues of buildings at risk (BARs) in an urban context, focusing on Liverpool and Manchester. A brief description of the background and approach to the respective councils was given. The delegates, split into three groups were given 10 minutes to discuss specific buildings, a handout being circulated with photos and a description. The groups had to report back with their views and thoughts about how to take action in the short and long term. Feedback included opportunity to debate various issues.
The key factors in dealing with BARs are pragmatism, diplomacy and patience. The main issues to come out of the discussions were, first, the importance of raising the profile of buildings at risk in order to generate support and, ideally, funding for a long term strategy; and second, the need for a direct approach towards BARs to be pragmatic. Shrewd management of the statutory powers available should be exercised with patience and diplomacy.
Evaluation for beginners
Facilitator: Kate Clark
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the evaluation of heritage projects is all about economic impact, and that the only role of evaluation is to prove that heritage does (or does not) create jobs.
Using the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as an example, the workshops identified the different groups that might have an interest in how the HLF has spent 3.89 billion on heritage projects. These include the government, applicants, heritage organisations, local communities, lottery ticket buyers, the general public
View of Princes Street gardens, Edinburgh
Facilitator: Professor Robert Lee
Two workshops focused on the implicit tensions which affect the continued improvement of the heritage profile of historic parks.
In terms of heritage or conservation priorities, the emphasis tends to be on the reinstatement or restoration of traditional features, whereas local communities are often more concerned with security issues, extended play facilities or memorialisation. Government strategies, whether in relation to the public health benefits of urban parks or their potential contribution to social cohesion, tend to give priority to improved access and sports facilities. This may conflict with the need to underpin the heritage importance of specific parks.
The discussion covered a range of issues, with contributions from a number of case studies. Particular emphasis was placed on the interface between park managers and local park users; on the need to establish user needs and to understand children's perceptions of urban parks. There was continuing concern over the ability of many local authorities to sustain new capital investment in parks and open spaces, particularly in terms of guaranteeing longer-term repair and maintenance in a manner which would help to break the cycle of vandalism and misuse.
Consideration should be given to alternative forms of governance, as advocated by CABE Space. Emphasis should also be placed on developing education outreach programmes, aimed at raising local awareness of the heritage significance of individual parks. Restoration programmes should be implemented as part of a wider programme of urban regeneration, recognising the important passive surveillance role of perimeter housing.
Finally it was recognised that a great deal could be learned from an in-depth knowledge of best European (and international) practice, in terms of alternative approaches to the conservation and development of parks and open spaces, and the funding regimes which enabled local authorities to give priority to higher levels of investment in this important sector.